In 2008, I was the class teacher of 2A, don’t remember whether I used to teach English, Math or EVS but that doesn’t matter. It was the day of Parent Teacher Meeting. As is my habit, I was a quarter of an hour early in the class. Even as I was settling a lady asked for permission to come in and requested if I could show her her ward’s papers. She was before her schedule and apologetic about her early appearance and wished to see her child’s performance in the tests and then head to work. I agreed and gave her the papers. When done, she thanked me profusely and I asked out of courtesy where she worked. She mentioned that she worked in the University of Mumbai and I quipped that then I would give her a visit hopefully. She was a bit taken aback and looked at me questioningly. I explained that I had been toying with the idea of doing a Masters for quite some time and hence hoped to visit the University in future.
The next day her son came and gave me an envelope which his mother had sent. Inside was the form for admission to the post graduate course. I took it home and showed it to Abhay and he asked me to fill it up. I might not have done my Masters in English had it not been for that interaction.
Those two years were a different kind of experience. I attended classes on weekends, Abhay took over the responsibility of keeping lunch ready on Sundays and I found a partner to study with in Shubham who was 7 or 8 then. Every day, before I could ask him about his day, he would ask me what I had studied as soon as he returned from school. His main interest used to be in the story that I would tell him at night. I would narrate the adventures of Don Quixote, Captain Ahab, Moby Dick, and Uncle Tom from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and made up stories so I could remember the characters and the basic plots. And I would tell Abhay about Virginia Woolf and 100 years of solitude by Marquez.
The reason for this sudden reminiscences around my Alma Mater is that some time back my sister asked me if I would want to contribute to an anthology on peace by the University’s Mahatma Gandhi Peace Center. The entries were to be sent by a certain date and the selected entries were to be published into a hard copy. Now, the by date so and so clause is a little confusing for me as I do not understand whether it includes or excludes the given date. For me on or before this date works better. Now, no little LEDs lit up in my brain till the day before ‘by date’ and the next morning I woke with a few lines playing in my head. I typed them out and felt it might do. Not sure whether the date was included or excluded, I asked my sister if I should send it. By all means was her response; besides we had nothing to lose as I didn’t have very high hopes from my piece on peace. It not only got accepted but also got approved for publication. And this is how Mumbai University, which took in a Science graduate from Delhi University to pursue Masters in English, makes its appearance on this blog.
I am still not sure what was it the people saw in the poem and critical analysis of a creative piece is something I am lousy at. But then it feels good when the University that taught me about literature published a work by me in its anthology.
Born a girl,
She learnt to be a woman early…
calm, patient, giving,
pushing her wants away.
Loved, respected, always happy
for being the woman
she was expected to be.
The world came crumbling down
when the questions crept in
Why should I?
Why can’t I?
What about me?
Who are you to tell me?
Chaos rose its dirty head.
And she never knew what peace was,
till RIP was carved on her epitaph.